If your neighbors are hunting enthusiasts, it’s not surprising they’re practicing their shots at all hours to prepare for hunting season. However, it can make people uncomfortable to hear gunshots all the time, and it’s not surprising you want to make it stop.
If your neighbors have permits for their guns and follow all noise ordinances (i.e., not shooting at night), then they have the right to do so. However, if you believe they are not following the law, you should report them to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF.)
Of course, there is often more nuance to these types of situations. So before you run to the phone, let’s talk through some likely scenarios surrounding when and why your neighbors are shooting guns and how to keep yourself safe and make it stop.
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
Sometimes, you’re not going to win the battle against your neighbor’s noise. If they aren’t doing anything illegal, there is little you can do to stop them.
If the neighbors are having target practice and you don’t want to hear them, we’ve got the solution! Sometimes, drowning out the noise is the best you can do. So here are three of our favorite ways to ensure you get some peace:
1. Noise-Canceling Headphones – These Bluetooth headphones can go anywhere with you to hear music instead of gunshots while your neighbor is practicing.
2. White Noise Machine – If you don’t want music on all the time, consider using a white noise machine to block the noise during the day!
3. Aesthetic SoundProofing – Add some style to your walls while decreasing the amount of noise!
How to Talk to Your Neighbor About Their Guns
If your neighbors are just trying to get in some target practice before hunting season, they may not realize that their shooting makes you uncomfortable. If this is the case, you should start by conversing with them while they’re not shooting.
You may be able to do this by catching them when they get home from work or errands one evening. I do not recommend approaching them while they are practicing, however, for safety’s sake.
Once you’ve contacted them, ask about the shooting you’ve been hearing. They’ll probably tell you that they are preparing for hunting season.
Tell them the shooting makes you uncomfortable when they do it at night (or whatever time applies to you) and ask if they can go to a range or practice at a different time.
What To Do If They Won’t Listen
If you’ve requested that your neighbor stop shooting and they refuse, do not go over while they are practicing, as this can quickly become dangerous. Instead, note the times and dates of the activities.
Then, if you file a noise complaint with local authorities or your Homeowners Association, you’ll have proof of them breaking noise ordinances and being a nuisance. This will help your case.
Keeping Yourself Safe is the Number One Priority
This is a very different conversation if your neighbors are not practicing, just shooting their weapons off for fun or shooting into the air.
If you think it may become violent, do not approach your neighbors; instead, call 911 to report a dangerous scenario.
Did you know that if your neighbors are involved in illegal activity, you can report them to the ATF? In addition, you can submit a report anonymously if you believe them to be dangerous.
Know the Law
The best way to stop your neighbors from shooting off guns all the time is to know the law. Knowing the ordinances surrounding noise and the legalities surrounding hunting and target practice can really come in handy while speaking to your neighbor about your issues.
Plus, knowing what to report is vital if they don’t want to talk. Without it, you just sound like you’re complaining. Armed with the knowledge of their illegal activity, you can stop the behavior much better.
The First Thing You Need to Know
Unfortunately, your neighbor may be within their rights to shoot their guns if they have all the necessary permits and follow the law. For example, if they are shooting at targets, they are within their rights to do so.
One state with very exact laws on this is Connecticut. According to their state website, “There is no state law that specifically prohibits a homeowner from discharging firearms on his or her own property, but other state laws still apply.”
Where You Live Matters
If you live in the city, the noise and gun laws tend to be stricter. For example, in Massachusetts, you cannot fire a gun within 500 feet of any occupied building. The only exception to this law is if you are trying to make a distress signal or if you are the owner or have the owner’s consent.
Even target practice is prohibited in small or large cities unless you’re on a range. However, if the homeowner has enough land to practice their shooting safely, they can do so, with approved targets, during the day.
However, if you grew up in the sticks as I did, you’re probably a little more used to hearing hunting practice happening. Or maybe I’m the weird one since I grew up two miles from a ‘sportsmanship club.’ Either way, the laws apply, and your neighbors must follow them when firing.
No matter where you live, however, noise ordinances still apply. For most states, noise ordinances are from 10 pm through 6 am or half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise.
Gunshots are covered under unnecessary noise. Therefore practice shooting during noise ordinance hours is illegal and may be met with heavy fines.
You might also enjoy our post on How To Keep Neighbors Off Your Lawn
Those that choose to shoot firearms legally go through a training class to be certified before they are allowed a gun.
They learn things like always acting as if a gun is loaded, leaving the safety on until ready to fire, and only pointing the muzzle at things you’re willing to shoot.
You must be at least 500 feet from an occupied building and have permission to shoot a firearm. Failure to follow these rules renders your hunting practice illegal and should be avoided.
Best Ways to Ignore the Behavior
If your neighbors aren’t violating any laws, you may have to learn to ignore their target practices. Consider asking your neighbor to inform you before they go to practice so you’re prepared for the noise.
Additionally, get yourself ways to block the noise. For example, you can purchase a white noise machine or earbuds.
If that doesn’t work, you can schedule your errands for their usual practice time, so you’re away from home while they’re shooting.
No one likes unexpected gunshots happening while they’re sitting at home. However, it can be even worse if you’ve got a trigger-happy neighbor. If your neighbor is the reasonable sort, start by talking to them about the timing.
You may be able to come to an agreement about when the practice will occur. However, if your neighbor isn’t open to critique, don’t antagonize them. Instead, contact law enforcement if you believe they are breaking the law.
Either way, ensure you do not interrupt any target practice or other shootings, as this can be very dangerous. Instead, contact the police if you believe you or your neighbors are in danger.
If your neighbor isn’t breaking any laws or doing anything dangerous, you might not be able to stop their activities completely. If this is the case, we recommend doing what you can to block the noise.